‘The Offbeat Bible: The old stories retold’, by Paul Hunt

Review by Roger Ellis

Close-up of the book cover. | Photo: Courtesy of Paul High.

Modernisations of Bible stories go back, in English, at least to the eighth-century Dream of the Rood, in which the Crucifixion is narrated by the cross itself. Before the Reformation, such rewritings, supplementing the sketchy narratives of the Bible, generally aimed to increase the readers’/hearers’ devotion. Now the picture has changed: the tone of the rewriting is either comic, like Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979), or agnostic, like Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary (2012), or antagonistic, like Philip Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (2010). This collection of ‘old stories’, by a Sheffield Friend, half from the Old Testament, the rest from the Gospels, has elements in common with all these approaches.

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